The whole of my morning yesterday was spent talking to and playing with little kids at Pasir Ris Primary School. Our overseas community project required that we endeavor in a local community effort of a similar nature before embarking on the main project.
When I first heard of this requirement, I wasn’t too sure what it was for. I had thought that it perhaps served as training for us, since we’ll have to deal with kids of the same age when in Tashkurgan (the place our project is taking us). I had also thought that it could be just one of those gratuitous, red-tape demands by the ministry that we serve the locals before serving the foreigners.
We were told to instruct the primary 3 students on how to properly abide by moral values and remind them of the values contained in their school’s motto: Responsive, Responsible, Resilient, Reactive. All of these, I thought, would be pursued to no fruitful end. Kids don’t internalize these sort of things; they see them as indifferently as they do the national anthem or the school’s vision which every morning they are made to soullessly chant.
So I really hadn’t expected much from the experience. It would be like a mechanical procession, and the kids would merely have had the joy of skipping the lessons for that day.
But how mortifyingly wrong I was proven.
There were 6 of us assigned to the class, and in order to not crowd out the front of the classroom, some of us stood by the sides, like sentries to keep the students from distractions. I was one of them.
The kids seated at the table in front of me were some of the most outspoken in the class. All it took was for me to ask them a single question about themselves for them to divulge their entire minds. A boy told me about his love for guns. He showed me a his dairy where he had drawn tons and tons of guns, all of whose names he remembers by heart and which he speaks with the greatest enthusiasm. He also told he knew Taekwondo and performed a few flashy kicks. Then there was a girl, whom took everything I said and turned it into something humorous. I had asked her to write how she could live the value of “Resilience” and she quipped: Just go to the next class. It’s called 3 Resilience. Later on, she and another of her friend pretended to be zombies and chased after me. There were others too; the boy that kept drawing planes on his little white board, the few that would challenge us to an arm-wrestling match, the pair immersed in their MineCraft guidebook, the group that kept playing tic-tac-toe..
And all the while, there was such joy in the atmosphere that one can hardly take a break from smiling.
By the end of the session, I realized that our coming here wasn’t so much to educate the children – for who would ever be convinced that morals can be sufficiently instilled in 4 hours – but rather, simply to meet them and become their friends. It was to discover their vernal lives, their innocence, the potential within them, the character that they would grow up to assume and how that character can be such a great one if only the proper care is given. And for them, it was to meet us strangers; these pseudo adults from a faraway place called “university”, and learn about our lives as we learnt about theirs. Every experience, after all, counts toward the construction of life.
The experience, though seemingly superficial, was enriching is ways I cannot aptly describe. It was enlightening. And curiously, I have now this inclination to become a teacher; for what can be more fulfilling than to be able to mold the lives of these blossoming young ones and lead them in the right direction.